Data Data Data

Data Data Data

Guest writer Andy Fanter writes this week’s blog post on the topic every business owner needs, “Data Data Data!”

I have worked for construction machinery dealers for 30 years now. They send me their sales data and make forecasts. They thrive on year to date, are we doing better than last year?   

Sometimes there are anomalies: maybe they sold a big package to a quarry, mine, or highway project that is not repeated often, or the service department had a number of large rebuilds. They happen, but not often, and this year over last year continues to rule.

Then there is construction data important to the dealers, and retail sales data, consumer spending, it is important to the lift truck dealers. For some reason both of these categories end up in this month versus last month’s comparisons. The latest example, US construction put in place—analysis of seasonally adjusted numbers—that makes me cringe and month over month comparisons. It had one of my great clients nervous. I dove into the data; US construction put in place is not my usual study. Find not seasonally adjusted data…first quarter adds up to $461 billion, first quarter 2023 adds up to $416 billion…10.8% over 2023. Client is up around +5% over 2023, too.

Retail sales:  all kinds of consumer confidence reports, month to month comparisons, stock market selling off retailers, has dealers worried, too. Unadjusted retail sales in Q1 2024 vs Q1 2023 are up 3%. This is a respectable number in a good economy. Consumers spent more in January sales, Valentine’s Day month, and Easter month than last year.

Fanter summary:  you operate your business on year-to-date comparisons, with no seasonal adjustments, and a rare “one time” occurrence anomaly. Why do you look at adjusted data with no year-to-date comparison?

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